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4 Strategies That Can Maximize Your Recovery During Sleep

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Photo: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

A miraculous thing happens when your brain tunes out: Your body shifts into action, repairing the damage done throughout the day. These are hours you want to take advantage of. The four strategies here will boost the recovery process, so you wake up healthier and more energized. (Related: The Best Pillows for Every Kind of Sleeper)

Take These Nutrients Before Bed

Specific vitamins and minerals that help you sleep better may improve the function of your body’s natural repair systems, says Jill Carnahan, M.D., the founder and medical director of Flatiron Functional Medicine in Louisville, Colorado. Look for a supplement that contains the neurotransmitter GABA or melatonin, which relaxes you, and magnesium or zinc, which calms the nervous system. Try Twinlab Nightly One ($22; amazon.com), a p.m. multi. (Related: How to Eat for Better Sleep)

Power Up Your Skin Care

“Skin temperature rises slightly at night, so you absorb ingredients better,” says David E. Bank, M.D., a Shape Brain Trust member and a dermatologist at the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, New York. He suggests using a product with one or more of these three substances: retinol to promote healthy cell turnover; vitamin E, an anti-inflammatory that erases the damage done by pollution; and hyaluronic acid, a super-hydrator that helps skin retain moisture. Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($32; dermstore.com) has two of the three: hyaluronic acid and vitamin E.

Do a Quick Rinse

The acidic and sugary foods and drinks we consume during the day slowly eat away at tooth enamel, and the process intensifies at night. “When we sleep, saliva production decreases, making our mouths more acidic and vulnerable to cavity-causing bacteria,” says Yasmin Chebbi, a dentist with the Floss Bar in Boston. Rinse with a remineralizing mouth-wash like Listerine Nightly Reset ($5; target.com) before bed. It lowers the acidity and “gives you seven or eight hours when the teeth can repair themselves,” says Chebbi.

Sleep On Your Side

This position speeds up the body’s lymphatic system, which helps remove harmful debris from your brain as you snooze, says Benjamin Plog, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Rochester. “The brain produces a lot of metabolic waste during the day,” he says. “If that debris builds up, it could potentially predispose a person to Alzheimer’s disease.” Side sleeping helps your brain detox and stay healthy. (These are the best and worst sleeping positions for your health.)

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